Proposal to Develop a ‘Southern Collective’ for Transdisciplinary Collaborations on the Northern Indian Ocean

NUS

Abstract

The northern Indian Ocean region, incorporating the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman and Laccadive Seas, can be seen as an understudied marine transcultural borderland. This project aims to build a transdisciplinary ‘Southern Collective’ of natural and social scientists, and non-academic experts to address societal and environmental problems facing coastal communities in this region. Our collective will undertake activities to address two broad climate and livelihood related themes for interdisciplinary research, namely transboundary coastal and marine resources, and forced migration and adaptation. The Southern Collective will co-create digital learning modalities in order to re-center local knowledge around these themes. We will also create a web-based portal to facilitate grassroots public engagement and democratize knowledge generation in and for the region.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Annu Jalais

Assistant Professor, South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

  • Bio ▾

    I am an environmental anthropologist and currently assistant professor at the National University of Singapore’s South Asian Studies Program. My interdisciplinary research and teaching experience focuses on the human-nonhuman interface; environment and climate change; religious identity and migration; and caste and social justice. My primary region of specialization is South Asia, specifically Bangladesh and India; my secondary zone encompasses Southeast Asia and China, especially around Indian Ocean exchanges in the religious and cultural realms. My academic scholarship, based in engaged ethnography, focuses on (a) social and cultural dimensions of forest-, river-, and sea-dependent communities; (b) marginal Muslim communities and migrants; (c) alarming developments such as increased suicide and out-migration rates, due mainly to the threat of climate breakdown across the Bay of Bengal, resulting in fast-disappearing forest-land, harsher cyclones, and rising sea-levels in adjacent coastal landscapes. These life-threatening transformations have jolted me into trying to make my academic work more relevant and for this I am committed to working with individuals and organizations that want to make a change and are motivated to work with multi- and interdisciplinary teams (from previous experience on European Commission and Arts and Humanities Research Council grants). I grew up in India, am at ease working in villages and slums, fluently speak Bengali and Hindi, and can manage some Oriya, Assamese, and Tamil. Becoming an engaged anthropologist has been my response to our collective concern over global environmental degradation, rising social inequalities, and dispossession (particularly heightened in these times of Covid-19 pandemic).

Aarthi Sridhar

Programme Head, Dakshin Foundation

  • Bio ▾

    Aarthi Sridhar is a founder and trustee of Dakshin Foundation and has headed its Communities and Resource Governance Programme for over ten years. She is also pursuing a PhD from the University of Amsterdam on the social history of fisheries science in India. Trained in diverse traditions within the social sciences, her professional roles straddle academic and practitioner spaces. Her current academic interests centre on historical and contemporary socio-legal studies, science and technology studies, environmental history, and sociological studies of science. Her empirical focal areas are coastal and marine environments, resource politics, maritime infrastructures, and practices of environmental norms and justice. As a practitioner, she has facilitated the creation of some of India’s early collaborative experiments for coastal and marine environmental governance and worked with various local and national civil society networks. She enjoys collective effort projects and has worked with diverse disciplinary teams to write essays, make documentary films, technical websites, field manuals, and other learning material on the subject of marine environments and people.

Rapti Siriwardane

Researcher, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

Alin Kadfak

Researcher, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

  • Bio ▾

    Alin Kadfak is a researcher in the Department of Rural and Urban Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Her current research explores labor rights in sustainable fishing policy as a global environmental governance mechanism, using Thailand and Myanmar as case studies. Her research interests include resource governance within fisheries and coastal landscapes in the Global South. Her doctoral dissertation, defended in 2018, explored how urbanization has influenced the lives and livelihoods of small-scale fishers, and how the coastal landscape (water-land nexus) is understood and contested in India. In her current project, she expands her focus to global fisheries governance, by exploring how labor rights have become an emerging standard for multi-actors (state and non-state) in influencing how fisheries’ supply chains are governed. Her research is informed by critical engagements with (urban) political ecology, global environmental governance, labor-rights, and critical geography.

Participants

Ahilan Kadirgamar

Senior Lecturer University of Jaffna + Chairman, Northern Cooperative Development Bank

Sujatha Byravan

Independent Consultant and scientist, Chennai

Avilash Roul

Guest Faculty, IIT Chennai

Mohammed Saiful

Scientist, Bangladesh Agricultural University

Khushi Kabir

Social Justice rights’ campaigner, Nijera Kori

Than Pale

Professor, Anthropology Department, Yangon University

Pradeep Singh

Research Associate, IAAS Potsdam

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